South champions Killenaule’s bid for a place in the county senior football final failed narrowly at Templemore on Monday, as the champions, Thomas MacDonaghs, a North division selection, held on for a narrow win under intense pressure from a fourteen man Killenaule.
MacDonaghs deserved their success as they twice came close to scoring goals in the first half only to be denied by the excellence of Matthew O’Donnell between the posts for the challengers. At the same time, Killenaule enjoyed generous possession but they lacked a killer instinct near goal, and MacDonaghs custodian, Jim McDonnell, was not called into action all day.
With the pick of seven clubs in the North division to chose from, MacDonaghs are a formidable combination and, having been virtually idle for much of the year due to the lack of sufficient opposition in the North, they benefitted from two quarter-final outings against Eire Og Anacarty in their build up to this contest.
However, they will have to improve on this showing if they are to get the better of Clonmel Commercials in the final next Sunday.
Killenaule have had a great year but a long lay-off since their South final win did not help them. Still, they played some very attractive football, though, when they came near goal, things were not so good.
They hit the ground running on Monday, Gerry Kennedy, goalie Matthew O’Donnell from a forty five, and John O Dwyer all having points in the opening five minutes.
It was all Killenaule at that stage but MacDonagh gradually found their feet. Philip Austin had their opening point from a 9th minute free and three minutes later struck what was to be the decisive blow. Fouled in the goal area, the Borrisokane man picked himself up to neatly send the goalie the wrong way with his penalty shot.
As it happened that was the winning of the match though a lot of football had still to be played. Tony Doyle’s pointed free levelled for Killanaule in the 15th minute but George Hannigan and Austin restored MacDonagh’s advantage with points in the 17th and 19th minutes.
Matthew O’Donnell saved the day for Killenaule in the 20th minute denying Seamus Hennessy a certain goal and six minutes later Hennessy shot wide with the goal at his mercy but Philip Ausin finished the half with a MacDonaghs point for a 1-4 to 0-4 lead for his side.
Still very much anybody’s game and Tony Doyle’s early point from a free, appeared to signal a Killenaule onslaught. It did not materialise and while there was much huffing and puffing by both sides in the second half, scores were at a premium. MacDonaghs lost Liam England to injury, Tommy Connors taking over, and in the 42nd minute there was a big setback for Killenaule when John “Bubbles” O’Dwyer was red-carded for a rash tackle on MacDonagh’s David Buckley.
The upset seemed to re-ignite the Killenaule challenge and they had most of the play to the finish but found scores hard to come by. Tony Doyle again pointed a free in the 53rd minute but the post denied them a goal on one occasion, while Matthew O’Donnell, from a free, and Gregory Henry went close also.
With the game four minutes into injury time, Tommy Connors secured the final spot for MacDonaghs with a well-taken point in a break upfield from the Killenaule siege.
MacDonaghs now face Commercials in a bid to retain their title with considerable room for improvement on this performance. However, they have the players to rise to the occasion and have shown that they can play attractive and productive football. Philip Austin was their key man in this success but George Hannigan, David Buckley, Ruairi Gleeson, Liam England and Tommy Connors when he came on, also showed leadership when needed.
It was a disappointing conclusion to a great campaign for Killenaule. Certainly the loss of a man did not help and they had enough possession to win. Michael Fitzgerald, Niall Bergin, Jimmy Feehan, Tony Doyle, John O’Dwyer, and the lively Daniel Bergin, put in a big effort but it was not enough on the day.
Scorers and teams
Scorers for MacDonaghs – P Ausin (1-3); G Hannigan, T Connors, 0-1 each;
Killenaule scorers – T Doyle(0-3), J O Dwyer, M O Donnell, G Kennedy 0-1 each;
Thomas MacDonaghs – Jim McDonnell; Martin Minehan, David Buckley, Ruairi Gleeson; Fergal Hayes, Joe Carroll, Padraic O’Meara; Liam England, George Hannigan; Andrew Austin, Philip Austin, Joe Gallagher; Aaron Ryan, Seamus Hennessy, David Young; Subs- Tommy Connors for England; Alan Hannigan for A Austin; Shane Dooley for Young; Rory Whelan for Ryan;
Killenaule – Matthew O’Donnell; Stephen Browne, Joe O’Dwyer, Michael Fitzgerald; Niall Bergin, Kieran Bergin, Jimmy Feehan; Paddy Codd, Cathal Bergin; Daniel Guinan, Tony Doyle, John O’Dwyer; Gerry Kennedy, Michael Doyle, Declan Fanning; Subs- Gregory Henry for Guinan; Eddie O Brien for M Doyle; Pat Kerwick for Kennedy;
Ref- David Grogan, Aherlow;